Welcome to Nudge

Penny now runs her acupuncture clinic in Milnthorpe, Cumbria. She is a highly skilled and experienced acupuncturist, qualified to Masters level in professional practice.

Penny is a member of the Association of Acupuncture Clinicians and licensed with South Lakeland District Council. She qualified after three years of study at the Northern College of Acupuncture and has been working as an acupuncturist since 2013 - holding licences in Manchester, Salford and Lancaster. She is also a qualified executive coach with 25 years experience. This combination of skills provides patients with a unique blend of deep listening and expert treatment. Penny is an optimistic and enthusiastic clinician and patients comment on her warm, empathetic response to a range of physical conditions and emotional wellbeing issues. She also has many years' experience of running a successful social business, providing every patient with an excellent service. and NUDGE associates with a positive and enriching work experience.

Penny Kay

Contact Penny here to discuss how acupuncture can help and to book a consultation and first treatment. On other pages you will find lots of information about how acupuncture works, prices, and what to expect at your first appointment. Links are also provided to FAQs, specific medical conditions and to research-based evidence. You will also find information on other aspects of Penny’s working life on our FAQs page.

You can watch this short youtube video to explain the type of acupuncture that Penny delivers, and why her full membership of the Association of Acupuncture Clinicians ensures your safety and quality of treatment.

What is Acupuncture?

Traditional Acupuncture originates in China and has been practised for nearly 2000 years. The central theory is that health is governed by the flow of energy, or Qi (pronounced “Chee”). When we are unwell or injured, the flow of Qi has been disrupted and needs to be restored. This can be done by inserting fine needles into specific points on the body.

The mechanisms underlying how acupuncture is so effective for treating pain have been researched extensively for over 60 years. Whilst there is much left to learn about acupuncture mechanisms and the human body in general, the neural pathways from acupuncture point stimulation, to the spinal cord to the deactivation of the pain centres in the brain have been mapped. Acupuncture has been demonstrated to activate a number of the body's own opiods as well as improving the brain's sensitivity to opiods. A number of other biochemicals involved in pain reduction have also been found to be released or regulated by acupuncture stimulation.

Acupuncture Needling

What an acupuncturist does

Acupuncturists insert very fine needles at precisely located points to stimulate the body's natural healing responses. We may also use moxabustion, massage and cupping to stimulate those points. Penny will listen to your medical history and life journey in order to decide which of 350 acupuncture points should be used to improve your health. Every prescription is unique to the individual, even when the medical diagnosis may appear the same. Each session builds on the previous treatment as the body and mind adapt to a more positive pattern of health. The body and mind learns how to come back to a healthier balanced state - homeostasis.

Treatment is designed to affect your whole being, as well as the specific condition you may present with. You may notice improvements in other issues such as digestion and sleep, excess heat, inflammation, emotional changes and an increasing feeling of wellbeing. Many patients come for regular top-up treatments in order to remain healthy.

Balance in everyday life

Yin and Yang describe the dual nature of things, the fact that something can only be understood in relation to the whole. So, what does this have to do with our everyday lives? At its heart, acupuncture works to balance and strengthen Yin and Yang.

We can apply these principles to our daily calendars: Action and activity are considered Yang qualities. If we continue to fill our lives with things that make us busy, our Yang levels stay elevated while our Yin becomes deficient.

We need rest, quiet, and relaxation—all Yin activities—to create a healthy balance. When things are out of balance for too long, we start to experience symptoms of stress and illnesses.

FAQs and Prices

Yin Yang

A growing body of evidence-based clinical research is discovering how the body responds to acupuncture and its benefits for a wide range of common health conditions. A lot of people have acupuncture to relieve specific aches and pains, such as osteoarthritis of the knee, TMJ, headaches and low back pain, or for common health problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or hot flushes. Penny specialises in conditions that are often a mix of emotional and physical issues such as ME, CFS and fybromyalgia. She also works with depression, low mood and anxiety. Acupuncture can also help with addiction, weight management and fertility. Other people choose acupuncture when they can feel their bodily functions are out of balance, but they have no obvious diagnosis. And many have regular treatments because they find it so beneficial and relaxing.

Click here for a detailed account of all the high quality evidence from research across the globe. This short video explains what is available. Luckily the evidence was summarised in 2014 and the EBA website provides all the information required by patients and clinicians.

“Our study found evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for 117 conditions, with stronger evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness for some conditions than others. Acupuncture is considered safe in the hands of a well-trained practitioner and has been found to be cost-efective for some conditions. The quality and quantity of research into acupuncture’s effectiveness is increasing.”
Acupuncture Evidence Project, p55

Matches compared with Needles

Watch this video to see the effect of just one needle inserted into the hand. Read Angela Hicks’ excellent book ‘The Acupuncture Handbook’ if you want a more detailed explanation in easy-to-understand language

By following this link to the BAcC pages you can locate the most up to date research on your specific medical condition. Take a look at this research summary on the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain.

Take a look at this short video for an explanation of what acupuncture feels like.

This is a short explanation from the British Acupuncture Council that reassures patients about the lack of side effects.

This will depend on many factors, including how long you have had your condition, how severe it is and how responsive you are to treatment. Some people only need one session, whilst others will come regularly for several months. But Penny will speak to you at each stage to talk about your options. Some reductions in cost can be agreed for lengthy periods of treatment paid for in advance.

Definition of the word Nudge: A Gentle Push...

The practice of acupuncture seeks to ‘nudge’ the body and mind to ‘remember’ what it does when it works well, when the whole system is flowing smoothly and effortlessly. By placing the needles at significant points in the body, the practitioner is ‘inviting’ the patient to return to wellness. Acupuncture needles are very gentle and offer a tiny impulse to the body to change and return to balance. Application of acupressure and acupuncture gives the body a gentle push in the right direction.

So NUDGE seemed appropriate because it symbolises Penny's approach to her patients. We are in this together and the clinician's role is to nudge, whilst the patient's job is to concentrate on getting better.


Acupuncture is very safe. Penny adheres to the British Acupuncture Council’s Code of Conduct. Any complaints can be directed to their site by going to the complaints section on their website.

There is more to NUDGE as a business and a way of making a living. Nudge has its heart a set of ethical principles that drive how the business is conducted, not just what it seeks to achieve. It is Penny's belief that it is as important to conduct oneself ethically in all aspects of the business side of the company as it is to behave ethically when dealing with patients.

NUDGE practice is typified by:


Penny may help by offering advice about nutrition, exercises and psychological proaches to support your road back to health. She will make an honest assessment with you about the effectiveness of your acupuncture treatment and will suggest other routes to health and wellbeing if she considers that they will prove more effective. Penny works closely with biomedical professionals and is happy to liaise with your doctor if you request this. She also has a good network of contacts for an osteopath, chiropracter, nutritionist, functional medicine specialist, physical trainer, counsellor and therapist.

Penny's recent dissertation at Lancaster University Management School was awarded the Chancellor's Award for Academic Excellence. Here is the wording for the pamphlet that she published. Penny continues to present her findings to interested groups and individuals, and is hoping to publish a paper shortly in the Advanced Journal of Professional Practice.

For acupuncturists and friends everywhere

A journey through the complex world of explanations for the curious patient

Are you often asked this question by patients? Do you have a stock answer that you’re happy with? Or does it fill you with dread? Do you give a brief summary of the Yellow Emperor’s Canon? Do you describe what happens when hormones are released? Do you show Youtube clips of the infrared thermography showing the effect of a needle in LI4? Do you look wisely to the heavens or do you tell patients to lie still and quiet so the needles get a chance to work?

What to say has been an abiding dilemma for me since I started training. I’ve followed in the lovely footsteps of Silvia Shroer (2005), who told us how patients tend to describe the effects of needles in metaphors; how they tend to disregard the scientific or bio-medical explanations, and also sometimes talk of ‘believing’ in the treatment.

I’ve asked lots of practitioners what they say, how confident they are, how much they vary what they say and what motivates them to say what they do. Here are the results. It is my belief that understanding can support outcomes and empower patients. Use this in any way you wish, but keep making acupuncture accessible!

‘I just find myself waffling!’

There were four broad groups of explanations:

  • Chinese Medicine Principles (CM) – Qi, Yin Yang, Channels and Meridians, Levels, points
  • Basic principles not just associated with Chinese Medicine – flow, balance, harmony, energy
  • Figurative language including metaphors, analogies – rivers, dams, bread making, cars
  • Biomedical approaches – autonomic nervous system stimulation, hormone release, fascia.

I’ve always felt very comfortable sticking to classical Chinese principles – patients seem to appreciate it.

Many practitioners used all four interchangeably, others used just one consistently. Some acupuncturists had preferences that changed over time depending on who they had been training or studying with. For some it was a choice based on what they thought would suit the patient and for others it was a matter of listening closely and matching their answers to the patient’s questions.

Needling restores the flow. Whether it’s Qi, blood, fluids, happiness, sadness, everything should flow and when it gets stuck we feel pain. Deficiencies and excess are also evened out by making things flow.

The main influencing factors were:

  • The way in which the question was posed by patients
  • The preference patients had for an explanation
  • What they had heard others say including colleagues, tutors and online
  • How much energy and time practitioners had to devote to the answer
  • In what area practitioners felt most confident
  • What acupuncturists most typically say every day plus their own treatment style.

The lungs are the carburettor (air intake), the stomach/spleen take in the petrol (food) and the kidneys are the battery

There isn’t currently much directly taught during training about what to say by way of explanation, although we all learned it for ourselves (Although there are some interesting activities at a couple of colleges now!) The way in which people tackle this question varies a lot. It often depends on how a practitioner began their practice and who their clinic supervisors were. I think it’s really important because we know acupuncture works and we love it! Perhaps we should be able to say why and how that happens in ways that work for our patients. My belief is that understanding can empower patients to get well, to make changes and learn how to manage their own health better.

Suggestions to help me sound like less of an idiot when trying to explain the mechanism of acupuncture?

For some colleagues, how to explain what is happening during needling has been a skill developed over time. Several students admitted they hadn’t really considered what to say yet. A significant number of practitioners in my study said they felt rather awkward, under-educated and grasping at words and phrases that they couldn’t really back up. Others felt their usual explanations didn’t suit everyone and wanted more of a toolkit of options.

What my research suggests:

  1. My top tip is to think about it before you begin to practise. And keep thinking about the question as your career in acupuncture develops. Many experienced practitioners said they had changed what they said over time and added more options to their original ideas.
  2. You won’t find the correct answers here! There are many factors affecting your decision about how to answer the question ‘What is happening during needling?’. Develop your own unique style and keep your eyes and ears open for other great stuff to add to your repertoire.
  3. You can always say ‘No-one really knows for sure. What we do know is that it works!’
  4. We have wonderful colleagues who spend their time developing clear and effective language and graphics to help us.
  5. Lots of practitioners do feel confident and have developed ways of talking about acupuncture in their own style. Seek out those inspiring souls!
  6. There are a broad range of explanations out there that you might find useful. They include Western Medicine, infographics, Chinese Medicine principles and lots of clever, funny analogies.
  7. Work on your grasp of mainstream biomedical ideas – it’s the starting point for many patients who come to you.
  8. Practitioners who listen actively to the patient find it easier to craft the right response for them. Stay curious about why they have asked and in turn, ask them what will help. Be prepared to ditch the ‘usual suspects’ and have stuff ready from a different viewpoint.
  9. Don’t assume that the job patientsdo, their gender, age or interests will automatically lead you to the right choice. Medical professionals who come for treatment may be interested in a different way of looking at things. The idea that men want plumbing analogies and women like laundry analogies may be very wide of the mark!
  10. Become a research-hungry practitioner, armed with knowledge about the latest top quality evidence from our profession. Have confidence in your practice and in your explanations. Your acupuncture rocks!


Current rates are as follows:


  • Initial consultation and first treatment, 90 mins : £75
  • Subsequent acupuncture treatments, 60 mins : £50
  • 6 acupuncture treatments booked and paid for in advance: £250


  • £95 per session
  • 6 coaching sessions booked and paid for in advance £475


  • Rates on request, dependent on work required


Penny has a private studio space in Lancaster that is now available for hire by another practitioner. It is obviously suitable for acupuncture, osteopathy and reflexology. But it can also be reconfigured for talking therapies, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, dance and Alexander technique. Your use of the room includes use of the couch, access to a toilet and washbasin, kitchen and separate entrance. The space can be available for 12 hours - 8 am to 8 pm. Please enquire.

  • 8 am to 8 pm: £100 per day
Lovely Clinic Space For Rental

Nudge Coaching

Penny has been delivering executive coaching for over 25 years and qualified many years ago with PB Coaching. She works with individuals wishing to resolve conflicts and plan for a major change in their lives. Clients have also included CEOs and Chairs of several national charities, managers and leaders, other self-employed consultants, coaches and trainers. Penny offers supervision of other coaches too. In Cheshire East Penny introduced a coaching culture for the whole organisation and worked with PB to train and roll out coaching across many aspects of the work we did there. She can provide testimonials on request.

If you don't know much about a coaching approach - one definition is:

Coaching is a professional relationship between a trained coach and a client (who may be an individual or a group) with the goal to enhance the client's work or home life, their leadership or management or their personal and professional development.

Coaching is a lovely integrative method of problem solving, resolving dilemmas and discovering a way forward. Here is a nice summary from ILM that shows how the development of a 'coaching culture' in an organisation can be beneficial. But coaching can also be very useful for individuals who want to make positive changes, including their wish to improve their overall health. This is where my knowledge of wellness approaches coincides with coaching and clients may want to combine the two in a period or growth.

In summary the benefits of a coaching approach include::

  • Clarity about what you want, why you want it and how you can get it
  • Bridging the gap between where you are now and where you want to be
  • Strategies and techniques which facilitate you to reach your goal faster
  • Overcome obstacles, low confidence and insecurities
  • Explore and evaluate all possible options available
  • Dedicated time, support, encouragement and motivation
  • Wellness support during transition periods.

Please contact Penny directly to discuss how coaching can bring benefits for you.


"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life"
Pablo Picasso

Penny has been interested in illustration, sketching and calligraphy all her life. She can remember practising fluent handwriting on a chalkboard at her primary school and getting praise for it!

She has used her sketching and calligraphy skills in many different settings - including tree labels for the National Trust, certificate calligraphy for local colleges, wedding invitations, special birthday cards and house-moving postcards. She also paints and illustrates what she sees.

A view of Liverpool!

A view of Liverpool by Penny Kay

Penny can draw any building that may be special to you. Please get in touch to see what is possible.

Please contact Penny for more information and sample pages.

Contact Me

Penny Kay

Please contact Penny directly to discuss your needs, and to make an appointment. You can text or call this number, or you can email penny.

Customer Testimonials